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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Expand, re-align, isolate divisions.

San Antonio, Texas
Merger: AL and NL merged years ago. How come no one noticed? Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Geographic realignment will produce a more fair and compelling playoff system naturally

There are currently 30 teams in the Major Baseball League (MBL). Since the merger, Milwaukee and Houston have switched conferences and there have been multiple attempts to fix the post season tournament structure. In recent months there has been talk of adding two teams, which, of course, suggests the obvious symmetry of four eight team divisions. We can only hope.

Let's work with that and move teams into natural groups based on geography and rivalry.

Same state teams go together. That covers:
- California: Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Angels
- New York: Yankees, Mets
- Illinois: White Sox, Cubs
- Pennsylvania: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia
- Ohio: Cleveland, Cincinnati
- Texas: Rangers, Houston
- Florida: Miami, Tampa
- Missouri: St. Louis, Kansas City

That's 19 of the current 30 teams. Some rivalries not covered by geography:
- Yankees, Red Sox
- Cubs, Cardinals
- Orioles, Nationals

Mid west teams: Detroit, Toronto, Milwaukee, Minnesota

Geographically isolated: Seattle, Colorado

Left: Atlanta, Arizona

OK, I'm going to resist the normal impulse to put them into potential eight team divisions now. The point here is that breaking out of the ancient American League (AL) and National League (NL) straight jacket is essential. If commissioner Manfred, the A-Rod Slayer, thinks that young people are attracted to bad behavior then he must realize that they don't give a rat's ass about leagues that no longer exist.

If you're into this so far, the next logical steps are:
- regular season schedule
- tournament structure.

To fix MLB playoff, fix the regular season first. Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The fish rots from the top.  I'm hearing more narrow unimaginative suggestions about fixing the mess of MLB playoff, chief among them, expanding round one from best of five to best of seven.  Big deal.  Until you correct the even bigger unfair mess of the MLB regular season, minor changes in the playoff structure are silly and meaningless.

As documented here, four of the six mini divisions play only 44% of their 162 games in division.  NL central has six teams that play 48% in division but vary the number from 18 to 14 against division rivals.  AL west four teams play a ridiculous 35% in division.

What the heck?


And that was written before the current mini divisions were changed to have the same number (5) of teams in each division and the creation of a second wild card team.

The current 162 game regular season was supposed to be changed back to 154 after the modern wave of expansion, which started in 1961, had stabilized. However, the owners, through greed and ineptitude, never went back to 154. Maybe it's time to shorten the season. Let's try some scenarios with one underlying concept: teams in a division play the same schedule.

My favorite, which returns some old World Series style mystery to the tournament:

teamsper teamtotal

Yes, just go back to the old schedule, not because it's old, but because it's fair and makes sense. Teams play only in division. Then, if you insist on having a tournament, the top four qualify. No wild card. One plays four, two plays three. Seeding is natural and fair. Then after coming out of the division rounds, they randomly play the winner of another division, then one more for the championship. Four rounds total. I don't care how many games are in the rounds except that the finals should be best of seven.

Or ... give number one a bye and have two play three best of three games. That keeps the same number of rounds as now: three.

teamsper teamtotalteamsper teamtotaltotal

That's 84% of games in division. The other division rotates every three years and as does the home team for the three game series every six years.

Then the tournament proceeds as above.

teamsper teamtotalteamsper teamtotaltotal

That's only 54% of games in division, which is way below my constitutional amendment for team sports that teams must play at least 66% of games in division. I don't like this at all and there are too many total games. The only "good" thing is that all teams play all other teams.

OK, you get the basic idea. Re-align and make things simple and fair. The tournament forms suggested here have either 50% or 37.5% of teams participating. Either should eliminate whining about teams on the bubble.

Also, with so many games, both regular season and tournament, against division rivals, teams can build their rosters to combat those teams, instead of a random set of possible wild card opponents.

I left this somewhat loose and open to interpretation but the operating concepts are a realistic set of guidelines that should satisfy the major power brokers. Additional benefits for the most geographically condensed schedule:
- reduced travel costs
- improved TV ratings due to many games played in the time zone of both teams ... and against rivals.

If needed, the regular season could be started in mid March and, if needed, in the warm weather spring training sites as has been suggested in previous posts.

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